Trump’s exit won’t quiet the storm of political vitriol



The least important element of Trump derangement syndrome is Donald Trump.

This is hard to accept as you watch Democratic prosecutors try to break his business, seize his property, and put him behind bars.

But stop and imagine that Trump disappeared tomorrow morning, and the target of all this hate and rage just vanished from the cultural firing range. The failed U.S. Senate candidate Katie Porter just speculated about this on camera, ranting about the Orange Devil dropping dead or vanishing into prison.

So imagine it really happened. What then? Peace and harmony? A brotherly return to warm cooperation across ideological lines? Jamie Raskin really likes us a lot, but he’s just mad at the one person?

Scott Walker was a successful conservative governor in Wisconsin, and he beat a recall effort before winning another term. Wisconsin leftists responded to Walker by storming and occupying the state Capitol — not in an insurrection, of course — while Democratic prosecutors began to launch raids on the homes of the governor’s most prominent political supporters. The courts finally stopped the “John Doe” investigations, but the response of the left to the success of a political figure on the right was rage, vituperation, and lawfare.

We’ve broken our conception of the open society, and a class of pompous idiots has its hands around the throat of the public sphere.

Rick Perry was a successful four-term governor of Texas. He was indicted and arrested by the office of a Democratic district attorney, facing a pair of absurd felony charges that were thrown out by the courts.

Look outside the United States, too, because the dynamic is the same everywhere.

Canadian truckers, who were so awesome I still get misty-eyed thinking about them, protested COVID vaccine mandates by gathering around the parliamentary complex in Ottawa. They showed the world the perfect model of the happy warrior, protesting against an abusive government policy by putting up bouncy castles and improvising hot tubs in the street.

If you missed it, go back and read the report from the independent journalist Rupa Subramanya, who walked around and asked Freedom Convoy participants why they were there. She found a joyful community of people, multigenerational and multiethnic, who could articulate their political cause with great clarity.

The Canadian government responded with — I’m recycling a phrase here — rage, vituperation, and lawfare. Officials erected ludicrous straw men about white supremacy and swastikas, against a protest that included a bunch of Sikh truckers, and warned that the truckers were preparing to overthrow democracy with violent attacks. Overreacting so insanely that it looked like a psychotic break, the government ordered banks to begin freezing the bank accounts of protesters and launched into an astonishingly aggressive crackdown on a peaceful protest.

A comparable exchange happened in Christchurch, where protesters gathered to express opposition to New Zealand’s vaccine mandates. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern snarled her response, warning that protest against the injections was “unacceptable.” Again, police crushed the protests, in an attack that turned into a fight with protesters who had been peaceful.

Think about your own examples. There is an endless list from which to choose. How was the Tea Party movement greeted by “mainstream” politicians and the corporate news media?

What we’re facing, all over the country and all over the world, is a global governing class offering an increasingly brittle rejection of any form of opposition. They repress speech, they criminalize disagreement, and they’re extremely comfortable with the presumption that anyone who criticizes them is dangerous. In Canada now, the astonishing Online Harms Act proposes life imprisonment for some categories of hate tweets — and no, that’s not a joke. Read the bill.

Watch a congressional committee hearing. Really, just pick any hearing at random and watch it. You’ll see — that phrase again — rage and vituperation, attacks on witnesses, snarling Democrats ranting at Republicans over minor points.

A spirit of hate and rage permeates the air. Take Trump away, and does that spirit die? No. The World Economic Forum class, the Davos crowd, whatever you want to call them: Their rigidity and brittleness are apparent — and growing. At the moment, all of that entitled rage has a single target that feels especially important. But the moment that target goes away, the rage will shift and resettle.

We’ve broken our conception of the open society, and a class of pompous idiots has its hands around the throat of the public sphere. Here’s an actual headline from a Canadian newspaper this week: “Excessive free speech is a breeding ground for more Trumps.” The author means both ends of that statement: free speech is excessive, and there can be more Trumps.

The “more Trumps” are you, and me, and everyone who is even remotely like us. The actual Trump, if he suddenly gave way and left the stage, would just be replaced by “more Trumps.” The hate and the rage are the problem, not the single target that happens to currently be front and center. The January 6 defendants are experiencing this in a very personal way right now.

And I promise you, there will be plenty more where they came from.





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